woman with laptop

Almost 40% of Canadian employees have begun working from home amid the Covid-19 outbreak, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

StatsCan reported that five million workers shifted to home working arrangements in late March. Alongside the 1.8-million employees who already work from home, the combined home-bound employee population represents 39.1% of workers.

An almost equal number, 6.7 million, were still working outside of their homes in late March, StatsCan reported.

Another 3.9 million workers (22.4%) were absent from their jobs in late March, it said.

It reported that 2.8 million were absent due to Covid-19, including temporary layoffs.

Overall employment declined by more than 1 million from February to March, and 2.1 million workers remained employed but worked less than half their usual hours (including zero hours) during the week of March 15 to 21, StatsCan noted.

The agency said that employment declines “were greatest in occupations — such as those in sales and services — which require face-to-face interactions or where working from home is not practical.”

Conversely, employment was hardly changed in categories where remote working is more feasible, including management, finance and administration.

StatsCan also reported that those with higher education were more likely able to work from home.

Among those who started working from home in late March, 58.4% have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with just 21.5% of those who continued to work outside the home, and 26.9% of those who were off work.

“This provides further evidence that working from home is more feasible for workers employed in professional or managerial occupations, which typically require higher levels of education,” it said.